About

As my tagline reads,

I am an undisciplined Asian Americanist, teacher, artist, and nerd.

I am also a Postdoctoral Fellow and the Interim Associate Director of the Futures Initiative at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

I see the work I do as part of a collaborative project to re-vision and re-make the university into a site of potentiality, one that enables rather than forecloses transformative modes of thinking, knowing, and being in the world. I believe that higher education–the pursuit of deeper knowledge and understanding–should, in the best of all possible worlds, facilitate conditions for social justice and equality.

In my scholarly work, I strive to articulate alternatives to dominant–disciplinary and disciplining–modes of thought and hierarchical structures of knowledge. My research focuses on Asian American and multiethnic cultural studies with an emphasis on feminist and queer of color critique. I describe myself as an undisciplined Asian Americanist because it best captures both my indebtedness to Asian American studies and my resistance to how labels like “Asian American” have been used by the academy and the state to regulate and compartmentalize minority difference. It also reminds me always of the rebellious and undisciplined activities that led to the formation of Asian American and ethnic studies, and how my scholarship contributes to this ongoing project to proliferate minoritized subjects and knowledges.

I am inspired by science and speculative fictions, including the work of Karen Tei Yamashita, Nicci Yin, Octavia Butler, Junot Díaz, M. NourbeSe Philip, Charles Yu, Sam Vernon, Ken Liu, Ruth Ozeki, Patricia Powell, Yong Ho Ji, Samuel Delaney, Marjorie Liu, and so many others. They have taught me that even in the most deeply compromised and inhospitable timespaces, it is possible to enact new modes of solidarity, to learn other ways of being together and of being in the world, to recognize and contend with difference, to rebel, rethink, and find pleasure even in failing. And it is no mistake that I gravitate toward the work of authors from underrepresented and underserved groups, from dispossessed, diasporic, and differently abled populations; writing from these distinct, yet overlapping positionalities, they compel us to consider the ever-widening chasm between how the world is and what it should be.

I believe deeply in Walidah Imarisha and adrienne marie brown’s assertion that

all organizing is science fiction.

To me, speculative aesthetics offer us not an escape from, but a way of re-approaching historical and persistent conditions of social and material inequity. Even more, they attune us to possibilities for enacting better, more equitable and just worlds.

Currently, I’m developing a book manuscript under the working title, “Aleatory Entanglements: On Minoritized Knowledges, Speculative Aesthetics, and Other Humanities,” that is based on my dissertation research. You can read more about this project and my other works-in-progress here.

My teaching is inextricably tied to my research- the two inform and derive energy from one another. It is in the classroom where I see myself most immediately enacting change; it is where my scholarship finds concrete grounding. All of my courses are informed by minority discourses, the lessons I have learned from Asian Americanist critique and antiracist and feminist pedagogies. As a teacher, I strive, above all, to communicate to my students an understanding of knowledge that is not about mastery, but rather how knowing entails practices of encounter and critical engagement that takes time and care, that necessitate attending to voices and stories that have been historically silenced, rendered mute, or otherwise de-legitimized. Read more about my teaching philosophy and the courses I have taught here.

I also identify as an artist and nerd, two labels I wear with joy. I’ve been drawing and writing since I was a kid (arts and crafts was my favorite part of school). I have gradually expanded my nerdiness to new levels, from being a bookworm to a board game lover and now an occasional–though potentially obsessive–video gamer with a penchant for graphic novels and Comic Con. I have come to see these aspects of myself not simply as separate hobbies, but also as what informs the kind of work I do.

With my writing in particular, I have tried to ignore (disciplinary) divides between academic and creative writing because such lines suggest that creative writing can’t be critical and that academic or scholarly writing is not creative. I contend that my writing, my scholarship is necessarily both- critical and creative. For me, the form your work takes, how you present your ideas, matters just as much as the content itself because the shape it assumes in the world also determines the audiences it reaches- the audiences it calls into being. And the nerd in me loves playing with words and sounds to create pictures that prompt us to look at and inhabit our worlds differently.

…You might even notice with this blog that my writing is rather “antiblog” (another phrase I’ve learned from Nao in Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being). Here, for the most part, you won’t find neat, concise ideas that have been boiled down to make them palatable for internet consumption because I like to ramble on, loop around, and retrace the places where my thinking takes me.

Hope you enjoy the ride.

For now,

Frances

P.S. If you’d like a more formal rendering of my professional experience and activities, you can check out my cv here.


Photo by NASA on Unsplash.

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